I’m a big fan of rural noir. Though it’s certainly not all that I read, it does comprise a huge chunk of my reading material in a given year. There’s just something so intriguing about the potential for darkness along the back roads and forgotten places where the former rural working class has been abandoned to wallow in drug addiction, crime, and poverty. Maybe it’s the Texan in me. Maybe I’m depraved. Either way, C.S. DeWildt’s newest book, Kill Em With Kindness (out today from All Due Respect Books) is just the kind of rural noir that I like.
Nick Gillis is a small-time dope grower, a loaner accustomed to minding his own business as he wallows in the long-past suicide of his wife. That is, until the night he breaks his habit and intervenes in a fight at a local bar, stopping a girl named Kimmie Flynn, practically in traction herself, from cratering a couple girls’ faces in with a cue ball for fucking with her about her appearance. He drives her home and all would be well, if not for two problems. The first is that no good deed goes unpunished in the Upper Penninsula town where Nick lives. The second is that Kimmie belongs to local sociopath crime boss Chad Toll, a man who keeps his two vicious Caucasian Mountain Dogs with him 24/7, waiting to sic them on anyone or anything that gets in his way.
What follows is an alcohol-fueled, dark tale of rabid dogs, trained crows, domestic violence, outright violence, and sadistic criminal acts, as Nick finds that he himself now belongs to Chad, or at least that’s the way Chad sees it. To untangle from the mess he’s stumbled into Nick will have to figure out a way to bite the hand that feeds him, without getting fed to the dogs in the process.
Kill Em With Kindness is an engaging, fast-paced read that takes the reader down the rabbit hole of Nick’s depressive mind, providing insight throughout the freefall as to how a man can come to simply give up on life, even if he cannot quite manage to give up on himself just yet. It has all the best elements of a hardcore rural noir, with all of the pacing and brevity readers have come to expect from All Due Respect titles.
Just don’t come up on it looking for anything resembling redemption, if you know what’s good for you. I blew through Kill Em With Kindness in a single plane ride, and I’d imagine you’ll blow through it just as quick. Pick up a copy of Kill Em With Kindness here, and find C.S. DeWildt online here.
**If you want more rural noir stories in your life, consider picking up a copy of Crime Syndicate Issue Two, which is chock full of rural noir goodness!**